Yesterday, NewTechKids hosted 120 middle and high school students from Colorado, Nevada, Iowa and Minnesota during our programming and robotics workshops in Amsterdam. (A special thanks to the Amsterdam Public Library for hosting the workshops.)

Our workshops were part of EF Tours’ 2019 Global Leadership  Conference under the theme of “The Power of Communication”. We led lively discussions about the evolution of communications from no tech to digital, with students talking about how social media and texting have made them more or less sociable and the benefits of different forms of communication.

Transforming into Tech Inventors

Students dove into the world of programming and robotics by working in small teams to design, build and program. Most of the students had little to no previous experience in doing so but after a crash course in LEGO Mindstorms and the block-based programming, some serious magic happened.
Students were challenged to invent robots which could either communicate or help with the communication process. Some invented robot prototypes which could delivery letters and packages while others designed robots which communicated sounds and on-screen messages.
Some of our favourites:
  • Project RSS, a social robot which drives around waving and displays hello, thank you and goodbye in Dutch on its screen. (Wait a few seconds for full-screen video to load.)
  • Cellphone Bot, which reads a cell phone number when it reaches a destination. (Wait a few seconds for full-screen video to load.)

Students as Leaders

This year, EF Tours and NewTechKids added a cultural exchange element to our workshops by inviting six students from middle and high schools in Amsterdam and Haarlem to be our teaching assistants. These students came from Metis Montessori Lyceum’s special coderclass (specialized coding track), Stedelijk Gymnasium Haarlem, Ijburg College and Theo Thijssenschool Amsterdam.

We held short evaluations with our student teaching assistants after each workshop. Proud to say that after the first workshop’s evaluation, they made some great suggestions which improved the final two workshops. Sharing ownership of the process and encouraging them to incorporate their own suggestions provided great leadership practice for them, never mind speaking in English all day!

During each workshop, we embedded ice breaker activities designed to give the American students the opportunity to discover more about the Dutch student teachers. The consensus at the end of the day: that while the students come from different countries, they are pretty much the same.

Overall, a great experience.

NewTechKids heads to Davos on Friday to teach more workshops during EF Tours’ 2019 Global Leadership Summit which will bring together students from North America and Europe for a weekend-long leadership conference featuring guest speakers and workshops. We’ll be leading a workshop which integrates design and rapid prototyping with artificial intelligence principles, all without using any technology.